I get a lot of questions for people about worm products – being that I am a worm farmer. I thought it might be helpful to simply define some worm products for you in case you are curious too.
Vermi – Words that start with the prefix Vermi- refer to worms or something about worms.
Worm Castings – Worms eat the decaying matter in soil and the microbes that are breaking them down. This matter passes through the worms gut – the entire length of it’s body – and the finished product is worm castings. Yes, it is worm poo or worm manure but worm castings are far different from “animal manure.” Worm castings, or at least good worm castings, look, smell and feel like fresh dirt or fresh soil. It isn’t sticky. Wile worm castings are loaded with beneficial plant food and soil building enzymes and microbes, none pose any risk to people or animals. Worm castings contain no seeds or weeds. For more about worm castings, please click here.
Vermicompost – Vermicompost, in the strict sense, is worm castings mixed in with decomposing organic matter: food, leaves, grass, paper, etc. Vermicompost contains seeds and weeds and all kinds of stuff. I plant a vermicompost raised bed every year. I dump the vermicompost from my family red wiggler system (not my commercial worms) into a raised bed every Spring and let grow whatever grows. I usually get a few hundred tomato plants, some squash, maybe a pepper or two…. plus some weeds but it is what it is. Unlike Worm Castings which are rather like pellets, Vermicompost is usually a dark, rich, smelly muck or mud. Often things like egg shells which taker longer to breakdown are visible.
Worm Tea – Worm Tea is any form of brewed worm castings alone or with other ingredients. There is a lot of debate and variations when it comes to worm tea.
- Aerobic worm tea – The best worm tea is freshly-brewed aerobic worm tea. This is worm castings and some form of microbe food (molasses is most common) This tea is most effective within minutes of finishing a 20 hour brewing cycle so that microbe colonies are their largest. Aerobic worm tea must be used within an hour or two of brewing.
- Anaerobic worm tea – Because there are billions of microbes all consuming oxygen, aerobic worm tea goes bad or anaerobic when they have consumed all the oxygen usually nwithin about 24-48 hours of the end of the brewing cycle.
- Worm Bin Leachate – This is the liquid that drains out of the bottom of some worm bins. Multilevel worm “hotels” often have a spigot at the bottom to drain off the excess liquid from the worm bin. This IS NOT worm tea. This can “over fertilize” and burn plants. This should be reintroduced into the worm bin when it needs more liquid.
- Worm Teas – Other – There are tons of variations of worm tea, from simply soaking vermicompost in water to mixing and brewing all kinds of concoctions.